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The US

Janet Reno's decision not to name an independent counsel to pursue alleged political fund-raising abuses by Vice President Al Gore was attacked by GOP congressmen who accused the attorney general of trying to protect the White House. Reno said she found "no reasonable grounds" for further investigation of whether Gore lied to FBI agents about telephone fund-raising calls from his office during the 1996 presidential campaign.

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US Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said he will seek to unseat Mitch McConnell of Kentucky when Senate Republicans choose their leaders for the new Congress Tuesday. In the first open challenge to the Senate's GOP leadership, Hagel declared his candidacy for chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, saying Republicans should not depend on negative advertising.

Several Democrats on the House Judiciary panel said they would offer a resolution to censure President Clinton rather than impeach him. Committee Republicans, led by chairman Henry Hyde of Illinois, have made it clear they do not favor censure, which they characterize as possibly unconstitutional and not a sufficient punishment. Meanwhile, the White House said it would provide the panel by today answers to 81 questions about allegations stemming from Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. The committee is tentatively scheduled to begin debate on articles of impeachment the week of Dec. 7.

Through October, average worldwide temperatures for every month this year have been the warmest on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. Late-arriving reports boosted the average temperature for October to 58.18 degrees F., exceeding a record of 58.15 degrees set in October 1997. The string of hot months has raised concern that human activities are contributing to global warming.

Black farmers suing the government for alleged discrimination will probably accept a proposed $2.5 billion settlement, their lawyer said. James Chestnut - representing 600 black farmers in 15 states who have accused the Agriculture Department of denying or delaying loans to them that were routinely given to white farmers - said a proposed consent decree might be filed next week.

The US will try to forge a consensus on returning thousands of Nazi-confiscated art works and religious buildings to Holocaust survivors when it hosts a 44-nation conference in Washington next week, Undersecretary of State Stuart Eisenstat said. The gathering follows a similar one held last year in London.

A Navy admiral has been charged with adultery and lying to investigators about two suspected affairs, The Washington Times reported. Rear Adm. John Scudi, who directed the Navy office of outsourcing and privatization, is reportedly charged with adultery, giving false official statements, obstruction of justice, and an ethics violation. He is only the second admiral to have criminal charges filed against him since Congress adopted the US Code of Military Justice in 1951, the Times said.

The World

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Iraq and the UN both were braced for strategic-weapons searches by new teams of inspectors. The inspections, of the unannounced type that have proved confrontational in the past, were to begin as soon as the UN experts arrived in Baghdad. Iraq was cooperating fully in allowing the searches to resume after its latest standoff with the UN. But the Baghdad government has resisted demands by inspections chief Richard Butler for sensitive documents on its weapons programs, insisting that they have been destroyed, are irrelevant to the experts' work, or already have been turned over.

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is due in magistrates' court in London Wednesday to learn whether he'll be extradited to Spain, which wants to put him on trial. He had sought immunity from prosecution for murder, torture, and other alleged crimes after British authorities arrested him at Spain's request. The Madrid government accuses him of the kidnapping and murder of Spanish nationals during his 17-year rule. Pinochet was prepared to leave immediately for home if Britain's highest court ruled in his favor. But the court's 3-to-2 decision requires him to stay in London while extradition issues are resolved.

Ousted Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz was considering candidates to nominate as his interim successor until national elections can be held in April. Yilmaz lost a censure vote Wednesday as 314 deputies backed the motion. The measure was based on the prime minister's alleged involvement in the $600 million sell-off of the state-owned Turkbank, which went to a favored business associate. His economics minister also was dismissed.

Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland must agree on specific areas of cooperation with the government of the Irish Republic by early next month or risk having their historic accord "crack up," a senior Social Democratic and Labor Party leader said. Seamus Mallon was among officials from both sides of the sectarian divide who met with British Prime Minister Blair to seek solutions to the deep disagreements that hobble the so-called Good Friday agreement. Over Protestant objections, Catholics expect to forge strong political links to the Dublin government as an expression of their desire for eventual Irish unification.

The two leading candidates for premier of Quebec headed into the final weekend before voters go to the polls, with incumbent Lucien Bouchard appearing the likely winner. The separatist-minded Bouchard led Liberal Party challenger Jean Charest by four to five points in late opinion polls, with his support highest among French-speaking voters, who represent 80 percent of the electorate. The election is Monday.

Calling South Asia the world's "most gender-insensitive" region, the UN officially opened a campaign to protect women there from violence. In announcing the program in New Delhi, a UN official blamed social stigmas that make females the object of violence "at the household level, in the streets, [and] on transport systems."

Business and Finance

Another multibillion-dollar Asian bailout - this time of Pakistan - was agreed to by the International Monetary Fund. After two weeks of negotiations, the IMF said it would give Pakistan $5.5 billion toward rescuing an economy battered by US sanctions (imposed after underground nuclear weapons tests in May), the drying up of foreign investment, and other problems. The deal saves the Islamabad government from default on $32 billion in foreign debt.

Effective Jan. 1, the income of the average Singaporean will drop by 15 percent under austerity measures OK'd by parliament to help the powerhouse city-state ride out Asia's economic crisis. The $4.6 billion legislative package cuts take-home pay by at least 5 percent and employers' share of contributions to the mandatory state-run pension fund by half - to 10 percent. Singapore's economy is in its first recession in years, the government announced earlier this month, with unemployment doubling to 4.5 percent.

Etceteras

"'Immunity is only given to the guilty. The innocent have no need for it.' - A spokesman for Chilean exiles in London, where Britain's highest court ruled that former dictator Augusto Pinochet could be extradited for trial on kidnap, murder, and torture charges.

JUVENILE COURT

In Berkshire County, Mass., they're apparently so determined to see Emilee Nicholas fulfill her civic responsibility that she has been summoned for jury duty two years in a row. What's more, efforts to be excused have gone nowhere. So on Monday at 8 a.m. she expects to report to the courthouse, even though it's unlikely she'll be impaneled for a trial. Now, it's not that Emilee has a scheduling conflict or is a member of some group that doesn't recognize the law's jurisdiction. No, the problem is she's only 3. Asked for comment, one commissioner said: "Possibly the child was assigned the parent's birth date. It happens very frequently."

WHAT UGLY AMERICANS?

So impressed was Kirchheim, Germany, resident Hans Schmidt with the way he was treated during a stay in Seattle that he sent the city $100 this week in appreciation. The money will go to a needy family in time for Christmas. A strange gesture? Not when you consider that Schmidt was a World War II prisoner there from 1944 to 1946.

The Day's List

Where auto-damage losses were highest in 1995-97

Insurers of motor vehicles expect high loss claims due to theft, vandalism, and other forms of noncollision damage in major metropolitan areas, and especially port and border cities from which it's easy to send stolen cars out of the US. But, according to a new insurance-industry study, the highest average per-vehicle loss for the most recent two-year period came in an unlikely place - Grand Forks, N.D. Reason: massive Red River flooding between mid-April and mid-May 1997. The top 10 cities for 1995-97, with their average noncollision losses:

1. Grand Forks, N.D. $315

2. Miami 286

3. Iowa City, Iowa 250

4. Rapid City, S.D. 197

5. Las Cruces, N.M. 169

6. New York/Newark, N.J. 168

7. El Paso, Texas 165

8. Greeley, Colo. 144

9. Kankakee, Ill. 142

(tie) Yuma, Ariz. 142

- Highway Loss Data Institute/AP


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